When I settled in at my desk in the newsroom of Wednesday Journal Inc. on Aug. 6, 2003 – it’d been four years since I’d left the company for another opportunity (long story) – I didn’t know a whole lot about Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside.
Sure, I had been a longtime nearby neighbor, but the local news there was not something to which I’d paid close attention. In the next 20 years, I’d come to know a lot about all three towns – more than I know about my hometown, I’d venture.
That’s because those three towns had a newspaper, and I was immersed in reporting their news, meeting and writing about the people, the local officials, about their triumphs and tragedies, joy and heartbreak, scandals and outrages.
That’s all part of every community, and Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside are so lucky, because they have a newspaper that has told their story.
But, in the future, it’s going to be told by someone else.
For two decades, Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside have heard my voice every week. I’ve written hundreds of news stories, of course, but I’m also the one who wrote (almost all of) the editorials and, when we did them prior to the company becoming a nonprofit, election candidate endorsements.
That’s long enough for anyone to hear one voice, and it’s time for someone else to take the mantle. The Aug. 30 edition of the Landmark is my last for Growing Community Media, the company that hired me in 1991, first as a freelancer and, later, as its first-ever full-time sports reporter.
But it’s been the highlight of my 33-year career as a journalist and my immense privilege to have become a news reporter in order to cover three towns so full of interesting stories and people.
Although they are next door neighbors, they are all so different. I could not have asked for three more vibrant places to cover – small towns are not necessarily sleepy towns I have come to learn.
I also could not have asked for better colleagues to help me tell those stories.
Bob Skolnik has been a freelance reporter, and the Landmark’s primary education reporter, for nearly as long as I’ve been here. His contributions have been essential and his commitment to covering these communities is unwavering. I could not have done this job without him.
Jackie Pisano, who is always eager to take on an assignment, has been writing news and features as a freelancer for nearly a decade now.
And, of course, JoAnne Kosey has been a mainstay at the Landmark for nearly the entire 26 years GCM has owned the paper. I will miss you dearly, JoAnne.
You may know our faces, but there are more behind the scenes in the newsroom – chief among them Javier Govea, who lays out the pages and makes the Landmark look so good. He is the calm in the storm, the solver of problems, my absolute rock in the newsroom.
Finally, thanks to Dan Haley for giving a raw reporter with little experience an opportunity to build a career, giving me the space and autonomy to learn what being a journalist is all about.
While I’m leaving, the Landmark will continue its mission telling the stories of Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside and the people who live there and make them such special places.
Bob Uphues, Editor